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Financing

For restaurants, 2022 has been a year to forget so far

The Bottom Line: High labor and commodity costs have eaten into margins and a bear stock market has wiped out valuations. And now the economy appears headed for a recession.

Workforce

Restaurants’ race for workers puts pressure on culinary schools

Rising wages are tempting some students to leave the classroom early, forcing schools to adapt.

The Bottom Line: The burger giant is facing the latest in a string of disputes with its operators, despite the company’s strong sales and record store-level cash flow and valuations.

A group representing Black franchisees voted “no confidence” in CEO Chris Kempczinski. Other groups could take similar steps amid anger over new renewal standards. “An absolute declaration of war on owners," one operator said.

In a push to expand its customer base and increase check averages, the chain is focusing on breakfast customization, plant-based choices and on-trend menu items.

The Bottom Line: The business is increasingly bifurcating. Fast-food restaurants are focused on speed and production. But demand for experiential dining remains high. Those in between may struggle.

Taste Tracker: Chicken in new guises at BWW, Slim Chickens and Toppers; Mooyah, Auntie Anne’s and Smashburger shake it up; refreshing thirst-quenchers for Starbucks, Dunkin’ and Charleys; and everything from cocktails to concretes to cookies make their debut.

The Bottom Line: Bloomberg suggested that one of the chain’s directors could take the position, including former Domino’s CEO Ritch Allison and former McDonald’s CMO Mary Dillon.

Borrowing costs are increasing as the Federal Reserve looks to slow inflation. But they seem unlikely to slow the industry’s growth.

The Bottom Line: Inflation concerns and margin pressures haven’t just hurt stocks. The market for restaurant deals has slowed to a crawl as sellers wait until things improve.

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